by Leah Waldron
When I first heard about the “same sex kiss day” Chick-fil-A protest, I have to admit that I didn’t quite feel “in the mood.” It takes a lot of work to grab your significant other, transport them to a Chick-fil-A, and awkwardly smooch them while nearby patrons ogle you, take a bite of their chicken, and possibly throw a few waffle fries in your direction.
But I have to admit, I was wrong.
A “kiss in,” while it seems like a dangerous (and, let’s face it, kind of silly) protest, is just as important as Chick-fil-A “Appreciation Day,” which brought in hundreds of thousands of supporters this Wednesday. When I turned on the news, it wasn’t easy watching those aerial-view videos of Chick-fil-A parking lots clogged with cars, or lines of people waiting for hours so that they could eat a value meal (and serve gays their chick-uppance). So why would a LGBT person want to return to the scene of a crime, let alone kiss, amid the smell of homophobic fried chicken?
Here’s one reason: Bonisiwe Mtshali. In Johannesburg, South Africa this summer, 29-year-old Bonisiwe Mtshali was beaten nearly to death for kissing her girlfriend goodbye on her way to work. The three men who attacked her, armed security guards, beat Mtshali so mercilessly that she lost consciousness and had to be transported to an emergency room, where she awoke three hours later. When she asked to press charges, police told her that she did not have a legal case against the men, because the assault was not a serious enough crime. Fortunately, LGBT activists stepped in and helped her hire legal representation, and two of the three attackers have been charged with assault. Mtshali may not kiss her partner in public again, but she can rest assured that people around the world want her to have that right. I know I do.
Granted, Mtshali’s case has nothing to do with Chick-fil-A, but it shows that in some countries, a crime as innocent as a kiss can land you in prison, or worse (ironically, South Africa is one of a handful of international countries that has legalized gay marriage, but the violent attacks on the LGBT community, particularly lesbians, is at an all-time high).
In America, many of us are too scared (or too weirded out) to kiss in public, because even though we want the right to love, some of us are not quite ready to show that love in front of other people. Not because we fear imprisonment or death, but because we fear ridicule, or think that a kiss is just a kiss (and not a political statement). But if we, as a nation of LGBT people, can kiss at the epicenter of the new war on gay marriage (the neighborhood Chick-fil-A), we are truly ready for marriage equality.
So if you live in a city with a Chick-fil-A, give us a little kiss. And if you missed your chance to be part of “same sex kiss day,” make every day a kissing campaign…and take as many pics as your little heart desires.
After all, a little chicken ‘peck’ goes a long way (but please, for the sake of all of us, hold the extra sauce).